Panamanian Golden Frog
Photo by David Tipling
In spite of being smooth-skinned and frog-like in appearance, the Panamanian Golden Frog is classified as a “true toad” (Bufonidae). Like other poisonous amphibians of Panama, the golden frog is capable of secreting poison to help protect themselves from predators. In the case of the golden frog, this is a water-soluble neurotoxin called zetekitoxin.
In dry habitat, the adult male measures 35 millimetres (1.4 in) to 40 millimetres (1.6 in) and weighs 3 grams (0.11 oz) to 5 grams (0.18 oz). The adult female ranges from 45 to 55 mm and from 4 to 7 g. It is larger in wet forests, where the male can grow to 48 mm and weigh up to 12 g, and the female can be as large as 63 mm and weigh up to 15 g. They inhabit tropical forest regions, particularly on mountains, near streams.
The little frog on the back of the big frog is not a baby, it is a full grown male engaged in “amplexus” a form of pseudocopulation in which a male amphibian grasps a female with his front legs as part of the mating process. At the same time, or with some time delay, he fertilizes the female eggs with fluid containing sperm.
It is very difficult to see this species in the wild nowadays. The pet trade, deforestation and a strange disease that is affecting amphibians worldwide are responsible for its endangered status. However, the Amphibian Rescue Center in El Valle de Anton has embarked in a program to breed the Golden Frog in captivity and, eventually, reintroduce it to the wild.
You can arrange a visit to the Amphibian Rescue Center when you come to the Canopy Lodge.